Nancianne B. Parrella dead at 83

July 16, 2019
Nancianne B. Parrella
Nancianne B. Parrella

Nancianne B. Parrella, 83, died June 2 in Cincinnati, Ohio. She was born November 14, 1935, in Trenton, New Jersey, and earned degrees in music from Trenton State College, now known as the College of New Jersey. She began teaching music in the Princeton, New Jersey, public schools in 1957. Her church music career began at First Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton. She continued advanced organ studies with Vernon deTar in New York City in the 1960s.

As an organist, Parrella presented solo recitals and concerto performances with orchestras; she was best known as a collaborative artist, particularly as a choral accompanist. In Princeton, she was co-director with William Trego of the Princeton High School Choir, and she joined the faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she was accompanist and assistant director of the Westminster Choir and Symphonic Choir directed by the late Joseph Flummerfelt, with which she toured and recorded in Europe, America, Taiwan, and Korea.

Parrella taught in summer programs at Westminster, performing with major choral conductors; and she assisted at the Spoleto Festivals in Italy and in Charleston, South Carolina, where she was the founding director of the chamber music series “Intermezzo.” She worked with Maurice Duruflé on the first performances of his Requiem in the United States.

Parrella was long associated with Robert Shaw, with whom she worked in summer choral workshops and later in France with his Festival Singers, and toured and recorded in America, France, and Brazil. She also collaborated with other conductors of the era—Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, and Lorin Maazel with the New York Philharmonic; Wolfgang Sawallisch of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Zdenek Macal and Neeme Järvi of the New Jersey Symphony; and James Bagwell and Louis Langrée in New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival.

As a church musician, she worked with Kent Tritle and later Scott Warren at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, New York City, and its concert series Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, where she served for over 20 years. Also in New York, from 1978–1992 she worked with Frederick Grimes in the Bach Vespers program at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and was a frequent accompanist for other conductors, including Dennis Keene and Voices of Ascension. For 14 years she worked with Greg Funfgeld and the Bethlehem Bach Choir in its historic festivals in Pennsylvania, and she also served at Trinity Episcopal Church, Princeton, with John Bertalot.

After moving with her husband Joachim E. Parrella to Cincinnati, she commuted to New York City to continue to play at St. Ignatius Loyola and to work with Andrew Henderson at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. She was also active in music programs in Cincinnati: Christ Church Cathedral with Stephan Casurella, Knox Presbyterian, Covenant First Presbyterian, Collegium Cincinnati, Summer Sing, Indian Hill Episcopal Presbyterian Church, and for community events at Deupree House.

Nancianne B. Parrella was preceeded in death by her husband Joachim E. Parrella in 2013. She is survived by her two daughters: Amy Noznesky, her husband David, and their daughter Megan Strauss, of Hobe Sound, Florida; and Lisa O’Connell, her husband Terry, and their daughters Catherine Rose and Madeline Kellett, of Loveland, Ohio. A funeral service was held June 11 at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, and a memorial service will be held September 21, at St. Ignatius Loyola, New York City.